Fonts: The one thing your brand can’t do without

Posted on May 16, 2019

If the layout stage has an unsung hero, it’s the font. Design elements such as icons, photography, and theme colors are meant to stand out, but fonts have a more demanding role to play: blending in. At their best, they tie visuals and concepts together to create a coherent whole. At their worst, they detract from both the imagery of the content and the message it seeks to convey. In either case, they’re essential to all forms of content (even videos). Below are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing fonts:

The mood of the piece. Always consider what your audience is expecting to see and feel; the font should relate to the topic under discussion. If your organization offers marketing services on behalf of accountants or attorneys, it’s prudent to use a font that inspires trust. But if you’re creating a brochure for a children’s camp, select playful (but legible) fonts that hint at classroom penmanship, finger painting, or something else that’s age-appropriate.

The legibility of the font. A flowing font may look graceful in headers, but if you extend it to standard paragraphs, you risk losing your readers to eyestrain. For instance, elaborate cursive lends an air of dignity and formality to diplomas, certificates, and old-style wedding invitations. However, intricate fonts like these can be difficult to read, especially on a small screen. To make your text look distinguished without sacrificing its legibility, choose a classic serif font such as Times New Roman; if you’re writing in a more conversational manner, lose the serifs. And optimize your content for mobile phones by selecting an uncluttered font, perhaps with an all-caps treatment for buttons and tabs.

The emotional impact of color. Red traditionally signifies power and passion, orange connotes creativity and transition, yellow suggests new beginnings, green signals growth (financial or otherwise), blue represents calmness and trust, and purple evokes dignity—and that’s just in the United States (international marketers, take note). Audiences around the world react instinctively to color, sometimes in ways they may not be aware of. For example, they might cringe at a red font because they have hazy memories of scoring poorly on a math test. Alternatively, they might find some color contrasts—e.g., a white font on a lime-green background—too painful to read, consequently pushing up your bounce rate and compromising your campaign. When you’re selecting font colors, take the time to understand how your audience is likely to perceive them. This means considering web accessibility as well as visual appeal.

The use of bold, italics, and underlining. Restrict underlining to hyperlinks (i.e., emails and websites). Bold occasionally signifies hyperlinks, although it’s more often used for top-level headings because it suggests authority and power. Italics typically denote titles of creative works, spoken emphasis on a word or phrase, and callouts like pull quotes. Before you decide what fonts to use, evaluate their legibility when they’re bolded, underlined, and italicized. Again, a visually flawless design treatment won’t help your campaign if your audience can’t make sense of the text.

Fonts may whisper while images shout, but that doesn’t make the humble font any less important. In today’s content-rich environment, legible and contextually appropriate fonts aren’t a luxury, but a necessity. Contact us to discover how the right fonts can help you tell your brand story.

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